THE row over the granting of coffee shop concessions at Zimbabwe’s major airports has intensified, with the Zanu PF-owned catering company, Catercraft senior management complaining that some companies have been given licences under shady circumstances and without going to tender.
Sources at Catercraft raised concerns over how coffee concessions are being granted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) to different companies, without giving the original sitting tenants first right of refusal and at times without going to tender.
“As the original sitting tenant from 1981, we expected that would be the case. We have two confirmations, in writing, one from the Caaz Acting CEO/GM and another one from the director of Harare Airports: ‘The allocation of space in the new terminal building will be done in line with our letting plan which gives preference to sitting tenants on a right of first refusal basis” a senior manager at Catercraft said.
“This used to be the case until about 10 years ago. When the new Harare International Airport was completed we were given an area between the South African Airways business and a jewellery shop, a very small area in a most unattractive position to run the coffee shop. Over a period of time much to our surprise we saw a coffee shop operating in a most attractive position next to the check in area. We were never informed or advised or consulted, no tender was floated. The new tenant is Café Espresso.”
The manager said over a period of time seven of the 14 coffee given out at Harare, Bulawayo, and Vic Falls airports were given to Café Espresso.
“None of the companies, including Café Espresso, were sitting tenants when the first concessions were granted to them. Catercraft was denied any involvement. Our communications regarding this subject were ignored by CAAZ management,” said the senior manager at Cartercraft.
Harare International Airport has three Café Espresso coffee shops, two Corner Café coffee shops, one viewing canopy coffee shop, one Round Bar coffee shop and two Catercraft coffee shops.
Bulawayo has one Café Espresso coffee shop, while Victoria Falls airport which will be commissioned in May has three Café Espresso coffee shops.
The manager said though Cartercraft is running three restaurants at the airports coffee shops were more profitable at the airports.
“The travelling passengers, as a rule, do not have time to go for full meals, they go for coffees, refreshments, and maybe light meals like sandwiches. Coffee shops are more profitable and more popular. The income from our restaurants are minimal and do not compare to coffee shops,” the source said.
“On occasions Caaz employees have their meals in our restaurants and all Caaz functions held at the airports are catered by Catercraft without payment by Caaz. We were informed by Caaz the cost is to go into reducing Catercraft debt to Caaz.”